While sports betting is not a guaranteed money maker, it is possible to increase your chances of profit by applying simple strategies. These include staying disciplined (i.e., not betting more than you can afford to lose), studying the game and seeking the advice of winning sports bettors. There are also a number of ways to place bets, from wagering against the spread to placing a parlay or other multi-bet.
One of the first things you should learn is how to read the odds. These are designed to give you an idea of how likely the event you’re betting on is to happen as well as how much you could win if your bet is successful. They are updated constantly, based on a number of factors including what other sportsbooks are offering and the history of contests between the two athletes/teams.
Another important aspect of sports betting is understanding variance, which can throw off your results even when you’re making good picks. Variance can be caused by a variety of factors, including injuries and weather. To reduce variance, it’s a good idea to track your bets using a free Excel bet tracker or similar service.
Lastly, be careful when betting on totals and beware of parlays, which combine multiple smaller bets into one larger bet with a potentially large payout. These bets can often have higher house edges than individual bets, which can lower your overall profit potential. Besides, some parlays may contain teams or players that you don’t have the best feeling about.